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Item #: OP1239-948
THE LIFE OF HORACE BENEDICT DE SAUSSURE Douglas Freshfield 1920 1st UK ed Hardcover Fine
By Freshfield, Douglas
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London, Edward Arnold, 1920, 1st edition. 479 pp, 21 b/w illustrations, 2 maps. Larger hardcover in original maroon cloth, gold spine letters and title. Edge wear at the top and bottom of spine, but no foxing or internal marks. Fine.

This biography of Horace Benedict de Saussure, the person who instigated the first ascent of Mont Blanc won Freshfield a doctorate of Laws from the University of Geneva. Neate calls it, "A delightful study of early mountaineering..." 

Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (17 February 1740 – 22 January 1799) was a Genevan aristocrat, physicist and Alpine traveller, often considered the founder of alpinism, and considered to be the first person to build a successful solar oven.

His early interest in botanical studies led him to undertake journeys among the Alps, and from 1773 onwards he directed his attention to the geology and physics of that region. This work did much to clear up the topography of the snowy portions of the Alps, and to attract the attention of tourists to spots like Chamonix and Zermatt.

In 1760 he first visited Chamonix, and offered a reward to the first man to reach the summit of Mont Blanc, at the time unscaled. He made an unsuccessful attempt himself in 1785, by the Aiguille du Goûter route. Two Chamonix men, Dr Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat made the first ascent of the summit in 1786, by way of the Grands Mulets, and in 1787 Saussure himself made the third ascent of the mountain.

In 1788 he spent 17 days making observations on the crest of the Col du Géant (3,371 m). In 1774 he mounted the Crammont, and again in 1778, in which year he also explored the Valsorey glacier, near the Great St Bernard in 1776 he had ascended the Buet (3,096m).

In 1789 he climbed the Pizzo Bianco near Macugnaga, to observe the east wall of Monte Rosa, and crossed the Theodulpass (3,322 m) to Zermatt, which he was the first traveler to visit. On that occasion he climbed from the pass up the Klein Matterhorn (3,883m), while in 1792 he spent three days making observations on the same pass without descending to Zermatt, and then visited the Theodulhorn (3,472m).

In 1780 he climbed the Roche Michel, above the Mont Cenis Pass. The descriptions of seven of his Alpine journeys, with his scientific observations gathered en route, were published by him in four quarto volumes, under the general title of Voyages dans les Alpes in 1779-1796. There was an octavo issue in eight volumes, issued 1780-1796, while the non-scientific portions of the work were first published in 1834, and often since, under the title of Partie pittoresque des ouvrages de M. de Saussure.

The Alps formed the centre of Saussure's investigations. He saw them as the grand key to the true theory of the earth, and they gave him the opportunity for studying geology in a manner never previously attempted. The inclination of the strata, the nature of the rocks, the fossils and the minerals received close attention.

He carried barometers and boiling-point thermometers to the summits of the highest mountains, and estimated the relative humidity of the atmosphere at different heights, its temperature, the strength of solar radiation, the composition of air and its transparency. Then, following the precipitated moisture, he investigated the temperature of the earth at all depths to which he could drive his thermometer staves, the course, conditions and temperature of streams, rivers, glaciers and lakes, even of the sea.
 
Douglas William Freshfield (1845-1934), English explorer and mountaineer, the only son of Henry R. Freshfield. In 1869 he married Augusta Charlotte, daughter of the Honble. W. Ritchie, Advocate-General of Calcutta. He had a son who to his everlasting grief died in boyhood.

Douglas Freshfield was a prominent member of the Royal Geographical Society. He was a pioneer climber in the Caucasus, the Himalayas, and the mountainous regions of many other countries. Although the dominating interest of his life was mountain exploration, and though he continuously devoted his leisure to the affairs of Royal Geographical Society and of his beloved Alpine Club, he found time for many other activities. He served for several years as Treasurer of the Hellenic and Roman Societies, as Chairman of the Committe of the Society of Authors.

In 1899 he visited India, Burma, and Ceylon, accomplishing his second greatest journey of exploration by the first circuit of Kangchenjunga. He was accompanied by Professor Garwood, who produced a map which was considered the best for the whole district. His last great journey was made at sixty years of age. Returning from the meeting of the British Association in South Africa in 1905 when he made an attempt on Ruwenzori, then still known as the mysterious Mountains of the Moon. Mr. Freshfield edited the Alpine Journal and also wrote The Exploration of the Caucasus, Round Kangchenjunga, Italian Alps, and Below the Snow Line.


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